Items tagged with 'Rob Madeo'

13th Floor Elevators

No 13th Floor -- Madeo.jpg

Thirteen, please.

By Rob Madeo

soapbox badgeHere's how we have fun in my building: when someone -- particularly someone who looks like a visitor -- offers to press the button for your floor on the elevator, you tell them, "Thirteen." They hunt around the panel until they realize that there is no thirteenth floor and one of two things happens: either you both have a good laugh or they get flustered and glare at you like you're an idiot. So far the results are about 50-50.

Like a lot of 20th century skyscrapers the building where I work, at the corner of State and Pearl, has no thirteenth floor. Well, it does have a thirteenth floor, but it's labeled fourteen. This was the norm at one time and you'd have been hard pressed to find a thirteenth floor anywhere in America. Today it sounds as quaint as throwing a pinch of salt over your shoulder, but when skyscrapers were a new thing we were a more superstitious people. And it wasn't that long ago, really.

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On the Things We Miss (Albany)

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The Miss Albany this week

By Rob Madeo

soapbox badgeThe Miss Albany Diner has been closed for more than a week now. Is it too soon to stop mourning? Let's hope not.

Much ink was spilled over shuttering the iconic diner... oh, wait, I'm sorry! It was not merely a diner, it was a treasure. It was a slice of history served up with your slice of pie. A step back in time, for God's sake. You did not go there for breakfast, but to partake in the Feast of the Gods.

Miss Albany was good place. It had decent food. The people who ran it were nice. And apparently it held great sway over writers, because locking its doors unleashed a torrent of words twice as sweet as the MAD Irish Toast but a hundred times harder to digest. Unfortunately, all of them missed the point.

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New Year's Rulin's

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What's on your list?

By Rob Madeo

soapbox badgeIn 1943, Woody Guthrie sat before the WGY microphones to talk about his autobiography, Bound for Glory. Guthrie was appearing on The Author Meets the Critics, a program that was sort of like NPR before NPR. Interestingly, its producer, Martin Stone, later went on to launch The Howdy Doody Show. So much for the high-brow stuff.

Anyhow, the WGY program was moderated that day by none other than Granville Hicks, well known author and literary critic, director of Yaddo, Grafton resident, and noted socialist. It must have been quite a show -- and I can't help but wonder if tucked inside Guthrie's bag that day in Schenectady, next to a copy of Bound for Glory, was the notebook holding his New Year's Rulin's.

A lot of you may have already read Guthrie's list, which is like 33 points for better living. Written in 1942, they're elegantly simple, and a pretty good example of how you might want to start fresh in the new year.

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Jeffrey and Me

Jeffrey's flagpole Rob Madeo.jpg

Jeffrey's flagpole

By Rob Madeo

I first met Jeffrey a while ago.

He stopped me on the street and asked for some money, told me his story, and kept me much longer than I wanted. I know some of you think it's a bad idea to give money to panhandlers. You may be right, but I'm sorry, if somebody asks for a couple of bucks they're going to get it. Maybe that makes me a sucker.

So, the next time we met it was much the same. "How's things Jeffrey," I asked. He was completely blown away that I remembered his name and gave me a hug. I could have done without the hug. After that, I think he was keeping an eye out for me, knowing I was good for a donation. One time I was in a hurry to my car and dodged him.

Then one day, Jeffrey intercepted me outside my building.

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Something wicket this way comes

But can they take all 10 wickets in an innings?

By Rob Madeo

When I was a boy, we played in the street. Stickball and street hockey, running bases, touch football. Even though there were perfectly good lawns and parks, we just sort of liked the street. Maybe it was the curbs, which were like built-in sidelines. Naturally, you had to look out for the storm sewers that swallowed countless balls, pucks, and Frisbees -- and oh yes, you had to watch for cars -- but the street was our playing field.

I don't see kids playing ball in the street much anymore, even at the dozens of basketball hoops that line our suburban neighborhoods. There are three hoops on my block alone and I've never seen a basketball being shot at any single one of them. They stand like monuments to the idea of sports. Go figure.

But things are different on my street these days. And the kids aren't playing the old reliable
standbys: they're playing cricket.

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My Exit: Rob Madeo

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Tonight's My Exit DJ -- Rockin' Rob Madeo

WEXT's My Exit is back. Every Monday night local listeners get to come into the station and program an hour of music. We thought it'd be fun to find out a little bit about these people and why they picked the songs on their play list.

This week, an AOA Soapbox regular shares work by some of his favorite women in music.

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Growing where the cows come home

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No Jersey plates here

By Rob Madeo

soapbox badgeEvery year, cows suddenly appear in the field down the road. They spend the summer grazing and a few months later they are gone, hopefully off to become milking cows somewhere, rather than the alternative.

The cows are like the summer people who invade places like Columbia County and Lake George. They come and sit in the sun, eat, relax, and enjoy themselves -- but unlike the summer people, they are quiet, have no cell phones, and don't race around in big SUVs with New Jersey plates. And anyway, you would never see a Jersey plate on a Holstein.

But the cows are oblivious to what's going on all around: the farms and fields are shrinking in on them.

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The Albany parking lot district

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E.P. Miller Jewelry store on Division St. in Albany

By Rob Madeo

soapbox badgeI came across a postcard from E.P. Miller Jewelers on Division Street in Albany. In the doorway are three serious looking chaps, one of them, presumably, E.P. himself. They sold watches, clocks, all variety of fine jewelry -- plus you could stop in for a pair of eyeglasses, for Mr. Miller was a licensed optometrist.

E.P. knew that it pays to advertise, and it's easy to find his ads in old copies of the Albany Evening Journal and Altamont Enterprise. Plenty of people used to take the train to work in Albany, so the suburban paper made good sense.

When the card (view larger) was mailed in 1908, Miller's store stood in the heart of what I call Albany's Parking Lot District. This vast, empty landscape of nearly seven acres was once a bustling part of the city.

Now it's a wasteland.

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The Mail Chute

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Slower than pressing send -- but more fun.

By Rob Madeo

When they put up buildings these days, the infrastructure for carrying data is built right in. Today's pipelines are copper wire and fiber optic cable, but in the past, the conduits for moving information were... well, actual conduits.

When 90 State Street was constructed it was equipped with a Cutler Mail Chute system. In 1929, this was the height of modernity. Instead of carrying your mail downstairs, you could just drop it in the slot and it went racing to the first floor.

Imagine the time it saved!

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The Earl of Pearl

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It all started at State and Pearl...

By Rob Madeo

We're pulling out the AOA soap box each Sunday for people to praise, complain, suggest, joke, or make an observation about things they see going on in the Capital Region.

soap box badgeIt's been a long, hard winter, but now that spring is getting a grip on the ice and snow, things are finally looking up. Some people are waiting for the crocuses to peep their heads out, others for the red winged blackbirds to hit town.

Me? I'm looking for a squirrel, known downtown as the Earl of Pearl.

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My grandmother has Alzheimers and sometimes comes to stay with us in Troy. Last week the absolutely highlight of her day was seeing the hundreds of crows that came streaming by the window at our apartment. I watched her go from completely unresponsive to engaged... stringing questions together and returning to her old joyful self for the half hour she watched those birds was enough to endear crows to me forever.

If you see someone running around throwing bird seed in Riverfront Park yelling "COME ON DOWN, BIRD FRIENDS!", it's me.

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